2 page Case Study - Posted 6/25/2014
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United Controls International

Engineering Services Company Cuts Order Processing Times in Half

United Controls International
United Controls International
United Controls International (UCI) provides engineering, manufacturing and testing services to the nuclear industry. To address the industry’s trend for larger projects requiring the coordination of many processes, procurements, and people, the company needed greater visibility of operations, a corporate repository of information, and more efficient quoting and scheduling workflows. TwinEngines, a Business-Critical SharePoint partner, developed a solution with Microsoft SharePoint that integrates with Microsoft Dynamics GP. UCI can now effectively scale their operations to meet the growing demands of their customers and industry.

Business Needs

With over 40 years of service, United Controls International (UCI) is a leading provider of engineering, quality, and testing services for the nuclear industry. The company sources and tests a wide range of parts and components against seismic, environmental and other stresses to determine if they are qualified for nuclear use. UCI believes that quality is paramount in the nuclear industry. All of their processes are documented, and viewed as living documents, agile enough to stay current with the highest standard.

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* An average job that took seven weeks to go through the system, now takes four or five weeks. *

Mary Segars
Project Manager
United Controls International
Company

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UCI receives requests for quotes (RFQs) daily from nuclear plants which trigger unique workflows to quote and manage contracts, procurements, sub-contracted services, and testing projects. Rigorous regulations and protocols, validations, and documentation form the core of a complex process that is touched by many hands, because of the mission-critical nature of the industry.

UCI experienced major growth in a short period of time and began taking on larger projects. These new, larger contracts required an influx of new personnel and more coordination of activities of multiple subcontractors – a dozen or more at times. As a result, the company realized that this new level of coordination would require a more sophisticated operations and management platform. “We needed to coordinate activities with many different companies,” explains Rob Hale, CEO of UCI Inc. “We had to incorporate their services, review and approve their work, and bring it into our unique process.”

Disconnected Information

When large, complex processes take on a life of their own, it’s often time to rethink the system. In UCI’s case, the company discovered a lot of redundancy in their approach. “Every day we received requests for proposals that needed to be reviewed in great detail, and then entered into a database,” explains Luis Sanchez, Vice President and COO. “In our efforts to become lean, we discovered that our documentation and review process was extremely redundant. This is a serious issue when you are working in a regulated industry and dealing with standards that are hundreds of pages long.”

“A major limitation was that multiple people could not input and review the same data,” explains Sanchez. “Everyone works on the same project in different ways and our information system had restrictions. We needed engineers to be able to develop procedures, lab technicians to use the data, and quality assurance personnel to be able to review the data submitted by the testing department.”

Solution

UCI brought in TwinEngines Inc., a Business-Critical SharePoint partner to perform a complete strategic and operational review of their business processes and systems. TwinEngines helps manufacturers and product service companies improve their workflows and visibility of operations with Microsoft SharePoint solutions, aligning business processes and line-of-business systems.

“When we reviewed their processes, we looked at how to connect the entire workflow: quoting, sales order creation, sourcing, operational tasking, and all the way to shipping. We needed to connect subcontractors and partners, too,” explains Kevin Seefried of TwinEngines. “We discovered many disconnected silos of information – a rudimentary Access database for job tracking that worked alongside QuickBooks for financials and spreadsheets distributed by email.”

Goals

The goals were outlined:

1) Implement a business systems solution that would not only support their current operations but would also support future growth.

2) Identify workflow automation opportunities to make UCI more efficient.

3) Judiciously remove paper from the process and increase the flow of information throughout the organization.

4) Focus on process improvement to eliminate duplicate data entry and manual processes. Efficiencies gained will remove the need for additional staff as business volume increases.

The Analysis

TwinEngines and UCI sat down together to determine the requirements for all of their operational processes. “We mapped everything out; all of the steps,” explained Mary Segars, UCI Project Manager. “We met with the manager of each department to make sure we met all of their needs.”

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* The new system allows everyone to see where projects are at any point of time. *

Sean Ruth
Production Manager
United Controls International

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“We started out at a high level with a Business Systems Analysis,” Kevin Seefried continues. “We discovered bottlenecks and where employees don’t have direct access to information. We asked questions to define the business systems model: What do you need from the financial system? What do you want operations to do? What information is shared between departments?”

TwinEngines modeled the flow of information in the business processes, clarifying ownership at the various stages. One of the early decisions was to replace QuickBooks with a business system that can grow and change with the company. TwinEngines facilitated an ERP evaluation and selection process, and UCI chose Microsoft Dynamics GP for core financial functions.

Microsoft SharePoint 2013

Because of the unique processes at UCI, there are no canned software products that meet their needs. TwinEngines has developed a unique set of modules to surface information in line-of-business systems and streamline business processes for manufacturers and product services companies. TwinEngines customized and configured these Microsoft SharePoint modules for scheduling and managing the workflow from quoting to shipping. Using Microsoft SharePoint, information in the Microsoft Dynamics GP ERP system was extended into the operational workflows for end-to-end process management.

Benefits

UCI named their new system Fusion because of its ability to fuse all of the disparate data from different departments into a single information platform. Fusion immediately delivered a new level of visibility, efficiency and coordination to the operations.

Better Visibility and Compliance

“Using Fusion, I come in every day and I am able to look at all the projects we have in house,” explains Mary Segars. “I can see where we are in the process, which person is currently engaged, what issues need to be addressed, and see the estimated ship date. All of this has given me huge visibility to see where we stand at a glance.”

“Before Fusion, we didn’t have any historical data,” explains Luis Sanchez. “We would have to look at 20 different quotes to determine how well we did on a past project, or how should quote the project in hand. Now we have this data in hand, so we can be much faster and more precise in our quoting process.”

Processing Times Cut in Half

The increased speed of quoting and sales orders has been an enormous benefit to UCI. “Before Fusion, it took us seven to ten days go get a sales order into our system, get it reviewed and sent to our purchasing department,” explains Ms. Segars. “Compare that to the three to five days it now takes to get an order to purchasing. This has improved our lead times tremendously and delighted our customers.”

Improved Production Window and Self-Scheduling

Fusion has also increased the speed and precision of job scheduling. “We can schedule every job to a unique production window,” explains Sean Ruth, Production Manager. “We’ve seen a dramatic decrease in cycle time from when a job comes in the door to when it ships. An average job that took seven weeks to go through the system, now takes four or five weeks.”

Empowering Employees

UCI must schedule projects for up to fifty employees. The new system allows much of this scheduling complexity to be handled by the employees themselves. “The new system allows everyone to see where projects are at any point of time,” explains Ruth. “This allows employees to manage their own schedule because they can now see the work in hand and what’s upcoming. Rather than reacting when something hits their desk, everyone can look into the future and see what’s coming in their direction.

Summary

Fusion not only enables UCI to be agile and scale their business effectively, but it has become a true competitive advantage in the nuclear industry services market. It increases the velocity of information through the organization and connects people to work together better. Fusion compliments the core quality and testing services to distinguish UCI’s capabilities above the others.

Business-Critical SharePoint (BCSP) is a Microsoft partner program that includes top solution and service providers who focus on LOB  integration with SharePoint.

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Solution Overview



Organization Size: 75 employees

Organization Profile

United Controls International provides engineering and testing services to the nuclear industry.


Software and Services
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013

Vertical Industries
Power & Utilities

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
Business Critical

Languages
English

Partner(s)
TwinEngines

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